I am thrilled to report that right now, both Lisa and I have copies of the catalog of Rafael Trelles’s exhibition “La palabra imaginada / The Imagined Word.” [See previous post Rafael Trelles: La palabra imaginada (Extended.] If you are in Puerto Rico, you can’t miss this exhibition at Museo de las Américas (San Juan, Puerto Rico); if you are not, I highly recommend this catalog. With a brief introduction by María Ángela López Vilella, executive director of Museo de las Américas, and an essay by Latin Americanist scholar Efraín Barradas (Professor Emeritus, University of Florida), this slender tome is as captivating as it is inspiring.
Efraín Barradas writes: “The artist’s subtle commentary, that object or animal, makes the other person’s text his own. And by making it his own, he makes it ours. His Alice, who might live in an urbanization in Aguadilla or Yauco, clearly shows that the barriers between what is ours and what is others’, what is Puerto Rican and is mis-called “universal”, are fragile, permeable, and even false. Trelles’ commentary on the works of these writers—Shakespeare, Ionesco, Borges—makes their texts our own through the image that comments on them, and does so, in large part, because he suggests, rather than saying outright.”
The drawing above is my favorite representation (of all time) of Mackandal—seen through the “lens” of Trelles, who, in turn, sees him through the words of Alejo Carpentier in El reino de este mundo [The Kingdom of this World]. Needless to say, it is very difficult to choose favorites—all the drawings are spectacular—but among them, I return time and time again to “Ti Noel,” “Boukman,” “Remedios La Bella,” “Axolotl,” “El rinoceronte,” “Encancaranublado” . . . Now, my plan is to design an entire course around these characters, their representations, and their corresponding texts.
La palabra imaginada / The Imagined Word, Museo de las Américas, 2020, Spanish and English, 57 pages, color, hardcover, 10.5 x 7.75 inches.